Mercer, Wisconsin - "The Loon Capital of the World"


Located between three lakes, Mercer, Wisconsin has made its reputation as a tourist area since the railroad brought the first people there in the 1890’s.  Vacationers from all over would travel on the railroads and spend summers at Mercer’s area resorts.  There were also numerous boy & girl scout camps throughout the area that would bring children north for a summer full of fun.

In 1926, the waters of the Turtle River and Manitowish River were dammed to create “systematic flow” of water that would generate power to make paper.  This became known as the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage Dam which flooded nine natural lakes, portions of the Turtle & Manitowish Rivers, and many swamps to create the 18,900 acre Turtle-Flambeau Flowage.  The “TFF,” as it is locally known, became a prime destination for anglers and a tourist attraction for both the Mercer & Springstead areas.

After the loggers moved on from the area many devasting fires worked their way through the area.  To help combat this new danger, workers from the CCC & WCD erected and maned a network of “fire towers” that were located throughout the area.  Many new fire prevention programs were started around this time.  This included “Smokey the Bear” campaign, which would help create the long time popular character through an ad campaign that was centered around fire prevention.  The first “Smokey the Bear” costume was created by a Conservation Department employee at the Mercer Station.

In early days the trip from Chicago, IL to Mercer, WI would take two days.  Obtaining gas & tires were a challenge, and maps & road signs made navigating quite a challenge.  As the automobile was produced and together with improvement’s in highways, the area’s tourism saw great improvements.  This led to the development of many area resorts, which helped fuel the tourism rush.  The area’s resort’s, along with the boy & girl scout camps that were located in the area, would help the area’s economy through the tough times of waiting for the forests to replenish themselves.


Logging remains as an important part of the area’s economy, but tourism has replaced it as the main source.  There are a few remaining resorts, though many vacationers from the cities have made the area their second home.  The area’s many lakes make it a very attractive destination for people looking to build their second home.

While fishing, snowmobiling & ATV/UTVing have become that area’s main attractions, the area has so much more to offer for every member of the family.

  • +74,500 Acres of public land
  • +200 Lakes, including the world famous, 14,000 acre, Turtle Flambeau Flowage known as “The Crown Jewel of Northern Wisconsin”
    • Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing
    • Beautiful sand beaches for swimming or enjoying the sun filled day and peaceful nights listening to the loons
    • Fishing
    • Camping
    • Many miles of trout streams
  • +250 Miles of snowmobile trails - meticulously groomed trails, some of the best in the state!
  • +110 Miles of ATV/UTV trails - well maintained & more trails to come
  • MECCA 4 Season Trail System - cross country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, biking
  • Mercer Hike & Bike Trail - 8 miles of paved & rustic road bike trail - the northernmost portion of "The Heart of Vilas County" bike trail, a 52 mile paved trail that connects many town in Vilas & Iron Counties
  • Carow Park on Grand Portage Lake - offers swimming, picnic tables & grills, playground, basketball court, baseball diamond, paved walking path, football field, and public restrooms
  • The Mercer Loon - Claire d' Loon, the 16 foot tall monument was erected in 1981 to emphasize Mercer's claim as the "Loon Capital," as it has one of the highest concentrations of nesting loon pairs in the United States.
  • Mercer Depot Museum - Museum of the Mercer area with books, artifacts, pictures and vintage clothing
  • Mercer Public Library & Historic Community Building - The community building was originally built in 1938 and has since under gone many updates in its many years, including the addition of the library wing in 1997 after the library was forced to move from the site in 1980 because of size
  • Golf - 9 hole golf course to challenge even the best of the best
  • Northwoods Wildlife & Wetlands Club - Multiple shooting ranges for both firearms & archery
  • Events throughout the year to entertain the whole family
    • Can-Yak - A 2 day canoe/kayak fishing tournament (End of June)
    • Pumpkin Run ATV/UTV Rally - Event includes a 3 day poker run, "The Great Pumpkin Parade," and wrap-up party (Columbus Day Weekend)
    • Lupine Junefest & Bike Tour - Multiple options for bike tours with concessions & live music afterward (Beginning of June)
    • Loon Day - Art & Craft exhibits, flea market, sidewalk & bake sales & live music.  Stop by our RE/MAX Action North Mercer office on Loon Day for a free cup sherbet *We start serving around 11:00 AM and serve until we run out, so show up early* (First Wednesday of August)
    • 4th of July Celebration - parade, live music, Run for a Vet race, and one of the best firework displays around (July 4th)